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Most NBA players would be honored to be mentioned in the same sentence as Allen Iverson, but Russell Westbrook isn’t one of them.

After an NBA executive compared Westbrook’s will to win to Iverson’s, the Los Angeles Lakers star curiously pushed back against that notion. And in doing so, he ironically confirmed that he’s more similar to Iverson than he might think.

NBA executive compares Russell Westbrook to Allen Iverson

Russell Westbrook doesn't want to be compared to Allen Iverson.
Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers | Harry How/Getty Images

Westbrook is one of the most unique players in the NBA today. His shooting stroke and decision-making can drive fans crazy at times, but he does everything else on the basketball court at an elite level. And you can never question his heart.

Iverson was similar in the sense that he would leave it all on the floor every time he suited up. It was as if every game was a life-or-death situation, and Westbrook approaches his career the same way.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN wrote a story this week about Westbrook and LeBron James learning how to play together in LA, and an anonymous Eastern Conference executive made the comparison between Russ and A.I.

“Russ reminds me of Allen Iverson, wanting to win but wanting to win on his terms,” the executive told ESPN. “If he can take a step back and win in LA, it will validate everything else he’s done in the league.”

Westbrook vehemently shoots down Iverson comparison

You might assume Westbrook would’ve been flattered by the comparison to an NBA Hall of Famer, but that’s not exactly how he reacted. Instead, the Lakers point guard instantly it shot down.

I disagree for multiple reasons. No. 1, I believe that I am a one-of-a-kind player, and I respect Allen and respect everything he’s done for the game, but I’m not comparable to Allen Iverson by any means.

No. 2, is that I’ve been probably — I feel, myself — always trying to fit in to do the best for the betterment of the team. And I’ve always done that in my career, and I’ll continue to do that and whatever happens, happens. If we win a championship, cool. If we don’t, I’m OK with that too and life goes on.

Russell Westbrook

Interestingly enough, Westbrook might’ve accidentally confirmed the parallel with his response.

An ironic twist

You have to respect Westbrook for sticking to his guns here. He’s never been the type of person to let anyone else define who he is and who he isn’t. Westbrook wants to forge his own path and be remembered as the unique player he is, so comparisons to retired legends aren’t going to fly with him.

In that sense, Westbrook is correct. He is a one-of-a-kind player, and we probably won’t see a talent like his in the NBA for a long, long time.

But his mindset of doing whatever it takes to help his team win couldn’t be more similar to Iverson. A.I. simply refused to lose every time he stepped on the court, which was arguably his best quality as a player. No matter how much criticism both players received during their careers, they went out every night with the goal of leading their teams to a win at all costs.

Take the compliments when you can get ’em, Russ.

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